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Mini-CHP misses out on refund plan

Manufacturers of Mini-CHPs have been left disappointed by the government’s new feed-in tariff scheme for consumers and businesses, after an eleventh-hour decision changed the scope of the project.

The Government launched its feed-in tariff scheme at the beginning of this month, with a  range of refunds for consumers and businesses who install renewable energy products.

This includes a pilot for micro Combined Heat and Power (CHP) schemes, but it has been limited to those that produce less than or equal to 2kW in terms of scale, meaning only smaller consumer-type schemes will be eligible.

“The original plan was to include micro-CHP up to 50kW,” said Antony Mayall of Ener-G, a provider of the technology.

Director of the Combined Heat and Power Association Graham Meeks said there was disappointment about the move: “Whilst we welcome the support given to individual householders, we cannot understand why the Government has not taken the opportunity to extend support under the scheme to communities and small businesses. Mini-CHP offers these consumers a practical and low-cost approach to saving energy.”

Others were also disappointed that the tariff level for micro-CHP had been set at a lower level than expected, at 10p/kWh. Baxi Group said that “while this is a valuable ontribution, it will not generate the same level of take up as the industry has been hoping for”.

Despite the misgivings there has been broad support for the wideranging announcement, which
included details on incentives for renewable heat products.

The plan for these incentives had been under consultation until recently, but they are now  expected to kick in a year later than the power refund scheme.

Dave Sowden, chief executive of the Micropower Council, said: “The clean energy cash-back  package is a major step forward in allowing people to save money on their fuel bills, cut carbon emissions, and is set to help the recovery by creating thousands of new ‘green collar’ jobs during the next few years.

“There are always points of detail to address for specific technologies and markets, but overall, this is very good news. We particularly welcome the significant boost given to heat technologies such as solar thermal and heat pumps, and the recognition by the Government of the crucial role micro-CHP is going to play in reducing carbon emissions for those with gas-fired central heating”

The renewable heat incentive (RHI) begins in April 2011 (while the power tariffs start in April 2010), with a range of heat pumps and other alternative heat sources set to be incentivised.